While they have been some rumours earlier this year that the planned rail link between Bangkok and Phnom Penh via Battambang would not be ready anytime soon, the government just confirmed that part of the rail link will be open for travellers before the Cambodian/Thai New Year in this coming April.
Some good news for travellers wishing to go from Thailand and Cambodia by train. It will soon not be a dream anymore. A couple of weeks ago, the Thai government confirmed the opening of the last km of tracks linking Aranyaprathet in Sa Kaeo Province in Thailand to the Cambodian border at Poipet. The 60-kilometre stretch of Cambodia’s long-delayed railway from Phnom Penh to the Thai border in Poipet has been completed, Cambodia Transportation Minister Sun Chanthol announced last Monday.
The project was originally scheduled to be finished by mid 2016 nbut land disputes as well as torrential rains delayed the project. On the Cambodian side, the 60 kilometres of track link now Poipet and Mongkol Borey, a district in Banteay Meanchey south of provincial capital Sisophon. First tests have been running and some freight trains already circulated from Mongkol Borey to the Thai border.
According to Va Sim Sorya, director general at the Ministry of Public Works and Transportation to local media, “from now on, the train can be operational from Poipet to Mongkol Borey, as the construction of [railroad is fully completed. However, no date has been given for passengers trains to begin. Works is going on to link now Mongkol Borey to Battambang, which is expected to be completed before the Khmer New Year.
Then, a further section will link Battambang to Pursat; and last, Pursat to Phnom Penh. The complete line on Cambodian side should be finished by the end of June. “We are working hard to complete the western rail line. It will be finished by July or by end of this year the latest,” Cambodia transport minister said, adding that the Battambang-Phnom Penh 130-km renovation of tracks will cost the government US$20 million.
Trains will however be far of being high-speed trains. Average speed is expected to be on average between 40 km and 60 km/hour.
At the same logistics forum, the Cambodian government confirmed the opening of a passengers rail link between Phnom Penh Airport in Pochentong to the city centre. First trains are due to be launched this coming April. The new train will use three train engines imported from Mexico for passenger transport, with each train able to carry 100 passengers.
Sor far, State railway company Royal Railway offers up to six weekly services linking Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville on the Gulf of Siam.